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Turkey: PM admits attack on Syrian Kurd fighters

Turkish troops carried out cross-border assault on YPG

PRIME Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has confirmed that Turkish forces attacked Kurdish militia in northern Syria on Sunday.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) said on Monday that its forces in the border town of Tal Abyad had come under machine-gun fire from across the frontier in Akcakale.

In an interview with ATV television late on Monday, Mr Davutoglu confirmed the attack — a clear act of war against Syria.

He said Turkey was enforcing its warning to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), of which the YPG is the armed wing, not to advance west of the Euphrates river — some 50 miles west of Tal Abyad.

“We said the PYD will not go west of the Euphrates and that we would hit it the moment it did. We hit it twice,” Mr Davutoglu said. “Turkey cannot abandon its border, its fate, to any country.”

The PYD is affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Turkey and the US have declared a terrorist organisation.

Tensions between Ankara and Washington were raised earlier this month when the US airdropped some 50 tons of ammunition to the YPG — ostensibly to help the militia advance south from Tal Abyad to the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

But the YPG seems keener to link up its large area of control of north-eastern Syria with the north-western pocket around Afrin, driving Isis out of a stretch of border country with Turkey from where the group allegedly receives arms and new recruits.

It would also relieve pressure on Aleppo, Syria’s second city, which is besieged by Isis and other rebel groups.

The 18-month bombing campaign by the US-led coalition against Isis and Washington’s $500 million (£325m) programme to train “moderate” rebels have had no appreciable effect on the group.

But the Russian intervention in Syria has helped the Syrian Arab Army push back terrorist forces including the Nusra Front.

Yesterday Turkish police arrested 30 alleged Isis members in raids in the central Turkish city of Konya and in the nearby town of Cumra, while a further 21 people were detained in Istanbul.

And police used tear gas to disperse hundreds protesting against the Koza-Ipek TV network owned by US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen.

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